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Florida Women's Law Group

Determining Child Custody In Florida

Author: Florida Women's Law Group
Date: Jul 05 2021

Child Custody in Florida

If you are a parent and are divorcing your first priority is most likely your child.  Our clients often come to us anxious about what will happen with their children and how the courts will determine custody.  Florida courts require a parenting plan in all divorces with children and they must focus on the child’s best interests.

Custody laws in Florida support children maintaining frequent contact and relationships with both parents.  Florida is considered an equal rights state which means that neither parent has an advantage over the other.  The courts view that both parents have equal rights to custody of the child or children.

Parental Responsibility and Time-Sharing

In Florida, physical custody of children is referred to as time-sharing and legal custody is referred to as parental responsibility.  By law, the state assumes that it is in the best interest of the child for both parents to have parental responsibility and time-sharing.  However, if one parent is deemed to be detrimental to the child’s well-being then sole responsibility can be issued.

Parental responsibility is each parent’s right to make decisions for the child.  These refer to major medical, educational, religious, recreation and legal decisions that are made in the best interest of the child.  Florida law favors that both parents share this responsibility.

Time-sharing designates who the child will live with and the time spent with each parent.  Florida judges prefer equal time between each parent but there are three different types of time-sharing that can be awarded.  The first is equal time-sharing where the child is with each parent approximately the same amount of time.  Majority time-sharing is when one parent gets more time and, in this case, the other parent has minority time-sharing.  The last type is supervised time-sharing where the situation warrants that one parent only be allowed time with the child when it is supervised by a third party.  This is not often used and only in situations where it has been proven that the child’s safety is at risk with that parent.

Parenting Plan

Couples divorcing with children are required to submit a parenting plan to the judge for approval.  If they can not agree to one on their own, then the courts will issue one using factors that are in the best interest of the child and their well-being.  These factors include:

  1. The ability of each parent to put the interest of the child first above themself
  2. Ability of each parent to provide continued and consistent communication with the other parent
  3. Ability to provide a stable home environment
  4. Where each parent will live after the divorce
  5. The physical, mental and moral fitness of each parent
  6. Ability to provide a consistent routine and schedule for the child
  7. In some cases, the child’s preference
  8. History of abuse, domestic violence or neglect by either parent

When determining a parenting plan the judge’s sole focus in on the child’s best interest with the goal of providing emotional, physical and mental stability, security and happiness.

Modifications

Parenting plans can be modified but only in situations where there has been a material, substantial change in circumstance.  The parent petitioning for the modification has the burden of proving that the best interest of the child warrants the change.

Divorces are complicated and emotional especially when it comes to time sharing and parenting plans and you need an ally. We have the experience, resources, and skills required to provide you with empathetic and compassionate legal service. Trust the experienced team of attorneys at Florida Women’s Law Group who are committed to providing you a positive experience all while seamlessly handling the meticulous details.

 

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